Various Artists

Anthology of World Music: Rwanda

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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg

Another installation in Rounder's admirable reissue of Alain Danielou's original vision. This album deals with music from Rwanda, neatly divided into forms from the Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa. The selections were originally recorded in 1954-1955, and, as a result, are at times in relatively poor sound quality, although they've been remastered to the best of the engineers' abilities. In many cases, these recordings are the last vestiges of a culture disappeared, as the groups which used to perform such music have in many cases ceased to do so in the past few decades. As with all of the albums from the Anthology of World Music series, the liner notes are extremely extensive, though out of date to some degree at this point. The selections focus both on the purely ethnographic demonstrations of instruments, demonstrations of forms, etc., as well as the more musical forms which can be listened to for pure aural pleasure. There is instrumental as well as vocal music represented, including a stunning piece on a simple form of board zither in use by the Tutsi. A nice rhythmic sanza piece is an analog in the Hutu selections. As would be expected from an African collection from the 1950s, drums figure heavily in a few tracks. Despite this, the majority of the album focuses on other instruments -- flutes, strings, voices. The music of this album holds many parallels with other forms of traditional African music, but it also holds its own surprises and allures for the prospective listener.

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